Steelers Match Offer to Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders

Ben Roethlisberger might be happier about this than anyone in Pittsburgh – Emmanuel Sanders isn’t going anywhere.

The Steelers on Sunday matched the Patriots’ $ 2.5 million offer to Emmanuel Sanders, a restricted free-agent wide receiver who is expected to replace Mike Wallace as a starter next season.

Roethlisberger is believed to have badly wanted to keep Emmanuel Sanders, especially with Wallace heading to the Dolphins after signing a $ 60 million deal and tight end Heath Miller healing from an ACL tear.

steelers draftThe Steelers initially tendered Sanders a $ 1.323 original-round offer that would have gained them a third-round draft pick if Sanders left. They chose not to make an $ 2.023 million offer that would have forced the Patriots – or any other team – to hand over a second-round pick, an unlikely scenario.

Sanders could leave as an unrestricted free agent after next season unless he signs a contract extension. According to agent Jordan Woy, he is the first restricted free agent to receive an offer in three years.

“Glad the business side is out of the way,”€ Sanders posted on Twitter. “Now it’s back to playing football and bringing (Super Bowl trophy) No. 7 back to Pittsburgh.”

Losing Sanders would have given the Steelers more salary cap room and the 91st pick overall in a draft in which there is wide receiver depth. But it would have left them with a woefully thin receiving corps — Antonio Brown, Plaxico Burress, Jerricho Cotchery, David Gilreath — at a time when the passing game has never been more important to winning in the NFL.

By paying Sanders nearly twice what they anticipated, the Steelers are only about $ 700,000 below the cap. They will clear $ 5.5 million of space from Willie Colon’s release June 1, but all or most of that will go to signing their rookies.

Sanders, mostly a slot receiver last season, has 1,290 yards receiving and five touchdowns in three seasons. He had a career-high 44 catches in 2012.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

By Alan Robinson


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